The Community Visitors Scheme and the Community Visitors Scheme Home Care Visits

One of the Co.As.It.’s many aged care services is the Community Visitors Scheme which incorporates the Community Visitors Scheme Home Care Visits. This is a program that is funded through the Department of Social Services and where Italian speaking volunteers visit Italian speaking elderly people residing either in the community or in residential care facilities.

These programs are designed to provide a means of community connection for those older Italian people who run the risk of being socially and culturally isolated in the community and in residential care facilities. The volunteers who are recruited by Co.As.It. are guaranteed to speak Italian and to be connected to Italian culture so that they can communicate in a culturally meaningful way with isolated, housebound Italian elderly people or those in facilities who experience a language barrier.

The clients and volunteer visitors are assessed by the Co.As.It. program coordinators in order to achieve a good match as this will help to develop a mutually rewarding relationship. The visits need to be found enjoyable by both clients and visitors so it is important to match interests, and perhaps regional provenance. If the relationship is difficult or does not proceed for any reason, the search for a good match continues.

Volunteer visitors come from all walks of life and help to break the monotony of daily routines for the isolated client. Some volunteers are retirees or part- time or full time workers. These volunteers want to give something back to the community; some want to use their Italian skills whilst others just love connecting with new people. But all of the volunteers have personal qualities of compassion, generousity, patience and understanding. They also come with their unique personality types from the loud and funny to the reflective and quiet.

The types of activities are supported by the program guidelines include chatting, playing cards, walking or playing other games; wherever mutual interests takes the couple. Just connecting to another person of the same culture is rewarding in itself; having the knowledge that one is helping to keep the Italian culture alive in another can be a great feeling between people.

The Department of Social Services has guidelines for volunteering services so that the rights and responsibilities are upheld by both the client and the volunteer. The program coordinators conduct brief interviews with prospective volunteers and clients and then as per Government requirements conduct the relevant police checks for the volunteers. The volunteer is also placed on an induction program and then the matches begin.

Clients can be eligible for this program if they are identified as an isolated person with a language barrier whilst a resident at a residential aged care facility or if they are a fairly isolated person 65 years and over who receives a Home Care Package.

Any facility can refer a client to the Community Visitors Scheme and any mainstream service can refer their Italian speaking client to Co.As.It.’s Community Visitors Scheme Home Care Visits program by calling Co.As.It.’s Intake Officer on 9564 0744.

Any Italian speaking person who wishes to become a Community Visitors Scheme volunteer can refer themselves to Claudia Bertinato or Connie Trovato at Co.As.It. on 9564 0744.